Getting Back Into The Game
In most professions, people take time off to go on vacation, start a family, or just to rest. In the music world, performing artists also go on breaks after releasing albums or finishing up world tours. Adele, for example, took time off from the studio and stage after her world tour ended prematurely in 2017.
With that said, many songwriters often take time off during their careers, and for good reasons. Taking a break can help songwriters regain their zest for the craft, discover new perspectives that help them become better at writing songs, or even find time to learn new skills in music that enhance their abilities.
But getting back into the groove of writing can also be a bit of a challenge for songwriters, especially if the time spent away was under dubious circumstances. For instance, the recent COVID-19 outbreak may have led to a halt in many areas of the music industry which are linked to songwriters. Considering the negative effect the pandemic has had on the music industry, it is not hard to conceive that some songwriters may have taken time off – voluntarily or involuntarily – in order to gather their bearings and cope with the stressful times.
Whether that has been the case for you, or you just took some time off to get some rest, coming back is not always easy. In fact, prolonged songwriting inactivity can lead to writer’s block or a lack of ideas, lost focus, or even a general feeling of disinterest – sometimes all of the above. How do you get back in the game after a songwriting break? Here are some ideas that might help:
Write through it
If you are pumped up and raring to go but failing to get your creative juices flowing, this might be an excellent fix. Writing through it means writing down whatever comes to mind, even if it doesn’t make sense. Heck, go ahead and write down as much nonsense lyrics as you like. This might seem as if you are wasting time, but many songwriters have hailed the benefits of writing bad songs, including Ed Sheeran. Eventually, the good stuff will start to flow and, before you know it, you will have some useful material written down. On top of that, you can comb through the “bad” lyrics you created, and even re-arrange them to make songs that are surprisingly good.
Don’t panicProbably this should have been the first tip. The last thing you want to do is freak out when you come upon a mental roadblock or feel sluggish about songwriting. Doing so can make things terribly worse and keep you in stagnation longer than you should be. Instead of heading for the hills when you realize you are not able to produce, take a step back and assess the situation. Are you just a bit rusty? Is the environment conducive to creativity? Have you tried everything to get back in the groove? Asking yourself the right questions can help you come up with solutions and prevent you from attempting drastic actions that prove to be overkill or entirely unnecessary.
Try a different approachMaybe you have been doing things the same way over and over again before you took a break (maybe that’s why you subconsciously felt for some time off in the first place). And now that you are trying to re-start your career, nothing is happening because you are using the same approach. In such a situation, trying a different angle could lead you to finding a suitable path back to creating. For example, you could pick up a new instrument or try a different method of songwriting. If you always worked alone, maybe finding a co-writer could help you reboot your creative brain. Whatever the case, a different approach might just do the trick.
Use your time away as inspirationWhether you had a good time during your break or was constantly under stress, your experience could be fodder for new material when you try to get back into the songwriting habit. Did you spend a fabulous week on a beach destination or Caribbean cruise? Maybe you could write a song about the perfect vacation Jimmy Buffet style. Broke up with the love of your life? Break up songs never get old (just ask Ariana Grande, et al), so it’s a chance to add your own experience to the mix. Lost someone close from COVID? Condolences, but that’s yet another experience that can be converted to a song and even help you through your grieving period. No matter how big or small your experience during time off was, you can use it to inspire your entry back into the songwriting routine.
Talk to someone about itSometimes when you encounter challenges, whether in your professional or personal life, overcoming them might be a simple matter of talking it out with someone. If you have a close friend or family member who understands you, try opening up to them about your situation. Even if they have no clue about songwriting, they may be able to pinpoint what’s holding you back mentally.
Get to the root of the problemHaving tried all of the above, if you are still having difficulty getting back into the habit of songwriting after a break, it could be an underlying issue that has yet to be addressed. Maybe you need to move away. It could be you are surrounded by negative people. Or there is turmoil in a personal relationship that is unresolved. Maybe you need therapy. Taking therapy is often overlooked (because of its link to mental illness), but talking to a therapist may also help you to get unstuck, especially if you have gone through something traumatic before you took time off or during the break. This also counts as talking to someone.
Restarting your songwriting career after a long break could also mean finding other creative minds to work with. Tunedly allows you to collaborate with talented musicians from all over the world.